Ulster Unionist Party MLA Steve Aiken, who is also the Chair of the Assembly’s Finance Committee, has said that the Health Department needs to be properly funded, and called on the Northern Ireland Executive to live up to its promise to depoliticise our Health Service.
Steve Aiken OBE MLA said:
“This Budget highlights very clearly the advantage Northern Ireland gains from continued membership of the United Kingdom, and just how vital UK Government support has been to the Northern Ireland economy as we seek to chat a path through the Covid pandemic.
“The UK Government, both directly in terms of the Job Retention Scheme and indirectly in terms of additional allocations to the Northern Ireland Executive, has now contributed somewhere in the region of £3.8bn in our efforts to tackle the pandemic. It demonstrates once again the clear benefits of Northern Ireland remaining a constituent nation within the United Kingdom.
“I make no apology for once again highlighting the issue of the Health Budget. Our waiting times are atrocious; we heard more about them on the media again only this morning. There are many causes but a decade of underinvestment and poor political leadership are the two key reasons in my mind.
“There are people coming to harm – real harm – so I welcome the efforts of the Health Minister Robin Swann and I congratulate him on how he now has the entire HSC family, including senior clinicians, breaking down old barriers and obstacles. Nevertheless, to make a lasting impact, it will require more than a one-year’s breathing space.
“The entire Executive, backed by this Assembly, needs to realise that only so much can happen with single-year non-recurrent funding. Our health workers bravely tackled the worst of the Covid pandemic; now let’s help them tackle the waiting lists.”